The Coronavirus spread is claiming more lives each day. The healthcare systems across the world are failing to effectively contain the situation! You surely must be hearing and reading this in the news every day through news channels, newspapers and social media. Naturally, due to all this, the overwhelming emotion we feel right now is fear & anxiety.
However, don’t let these negative emotions overpower you! Let us understand our emotions better so that we are safe from the mental threat that COVID-19 poses.
The importance of lockdown and social distancing
India is going through a 21-day lockdown. We have all been advised to stay within our homes. We should only go out when necessary, for example, to purchase food supplies. This way, we will not risk being exposed to the virus and won’t pass it on to others either. To break the chain of transmission, lockdown and social distancing are of utmost importance.
The difficulty of isolating yourself
Lockdown means you can’t go out to work, to meet friends and loved ones, to the movies, dinners at restaurants and everything that we love doing. Initially, it might seem to be very restful. After all, don’t we all complain about not being able to spend time with our families and catching up on sleep?
But after a few days, lockdown can become tedious and you will begin to feel like a prisoner in your own home.
Dealing with emotional problems during lockdown
- Prepare a schedule
Keep yourself busy and draw up a packed schedule for yourself. You might be working from home. In your spare time, do some household chores such as cleaning, cooking, etc.
- Entertain yourself
Let the calming effect of music and reading push out feelings of fear and confusion. And what better opportunity to binge-watch your favourite shows on the internet?
- Revisit old hobbies
Remember your old hobby? Time to bring it back. Be it painting, strumming on the guitar, writing poems, sewing or gardening, you can pass many happy hours with your hobby and beat stress.
- Eat healthily
Follow a healthy diet. Fresh meals keep us happy and content. Drink plenty of fluids- water and juices, to keep yourself hydrated and your body working properly.
- Don’t skip exercises
You must exercise every day. Simple home cardio exercises can keep you fit and promote the production of happiness hormones like endorphins to keep you cheerful.
- Sharing is caring
If necessary, share your food and essentials with your neighbours. Sharing makes you feel good about yourself. And you will also be doing a great service to society.
What NOT to do during these stressful times
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking. They may offer a temporary respite but they will have grave consequences on your physical and psychological health. They will also weaken your immunity.
- Do not make people who have come down with COVID-19 feel like outcasts. They need our love and support. If you know someone who is ill, call him/her up and enquire after his or her health.
Emotional issues if you come down with COVID-19
If you have come down with COVID-19, you may feel stressed because-
- You have been isolated for a long time and you want to be back in the community.
- You may fear passing on the infection to your loved ones.
- Many people are exposed to misinformation so these people might not welcome you back into the community even when you have recovered from the illness completely.
How to recognize mental health problems?
Be prepared for the possibility that the pandemic might trigger psychological problems in people you love. Watch out for these symptoms-
- A change in the sleep-wake pattern
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Increased use of tobacco, drugs or alcohol
- Aggravation of health problems
Extend your full support to your loved ones if they have a mental health problem.
Worsening of mental issues
People who had already been diagnosed with psychological issues may suffer a new set of challenges such as-
- Social distancing may make them withdrawn, irritable and vulnerable to mood swings.
- They may refuse medication and counselling.
- Prevailing fears about the virus can aggravate their mental health issues.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed us. We don’t know when it will blow over. Yes, these are difficult times. But remember, you are not alone. The whole world is in it together.
Keep your spirits up, because a cheerful and optimistic outlook can be the light that guides us through this dark tunnel.